Clegg announces three new garden cities to be built

Nick Clegg Q&A York Some rights reserved by Liberal DemocratsThe BBC reports:

Up to three garden cities, each with more than 15,000 homes will be built to help deal with a “chronic” housing shortage, Nick Clegg has announced. The deputy prime minister promised “high-quality homes in thriving new communities”, on potential sites yet to be identified.

Funding from an existing £2.4bn pot will be made available for developments being built up to 2020. Councils will be asked to raise any concerns over the schemes.

Last year 109,370 new homes were completed in England, the lowest figure for four years.Yet the number of households is expected to grow by 221,000 every year this decade. Twenty-seven new towns were built across the UK after World War Two, including Stevenage, Harlow, Milton Keynes, Corby, Cwmbran, Newton Aycliffe, Peterlee and Cumbernauld. These, called garden cities because their layouts included large amounts of green space, were designed to deal with an accommodation shortage caused by bomb damage, stagnation in the construction industry, returning service personnel and a baby boom.

Mr Clegg, speaking at his monthly media conference, sought to invoke the same spirit as 1940s politicians when he issued a “call-to-arms for visionaries” to set out plans for schemes and published a prospectus inviting bids from councils. Officials were keen to stress that the new cities would not be imposed on communities and must have local support. They must also have good transport links and be commercially viable.

The party’s website includes the following quote from Nick:

“Garden Cities are communities where future generations will live, work, have children, grow up and grow old.

“Today I’m publishing a new garden cities prospectus, which calls for local areas to submit their plans for garden cities that will provide affordable homes, good schools, and jobs for the next generation, whilst at the same time preserving the countryside.

“This is a call to arms for visionaries in local areas in need of housing to put forward radical and ambitious proposals to develop their own garden cities.”

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  • I liked the slant in the World At One report: will these garden cities embody the socialist ideals which brought Letchworth into being? Will the land be held in trust for the community, with profits rolled back into amenities?

  • “on potential sites yet to be identified.”
    ” Officials were keen to stress that the new cities would not be imposed on communities and must have local support. They must also have good transport links and be commercially viable.”

    Wouldn’t it have been better to wait until the sites had been agreed before telling the media? While good news if it happens, it does sound a little bit like desperate electioneering.

  • Brenda Lana Smith 14th Apr '14 - 3:39pm

    Let’s ensure that none of the potential sites are on a flood plain!

  • Tony Greaves 14th Apr '14 - 5:48pm

    I wish him luck.

    Tony Greaves

  • Deja Vu ??? If this gets announced many more times we will also start to suffer from too much siand not enough substance.

    My first reaction is 15,000 seems a bit small for a “City”.
    I looked aorund and found the following. Is this what Clegg has in mind?

    The essential features of the garden city can be summarised as follows:—

    1. Organised planned dispersal of industries and people to towns of sufficient size to provide the services, variety of occupations, and level of culture needed by a balanced cross-section of modern society.

    2. Limit of town size (to around 30,000) in order that their inhabitants may live near work, shops and other facilities and within walking distance of the surrounding countryside. New garden cities to be built once population limit reached.

    3. Spaciousness of layout providing for houses with private gardens, enough space for schools and other functional purposes, and pleasant parks and parkways.

    4. A close town/country relationship with a firm definition of the town boundary and a large area around it reserved permanently for agriculture, providing a ready market for farmers and access to the countryside for residents.

    5. Pre-planning of the whole town framework, including functional zoning and roads, the setting of maximum densities, the control of building as to quality and design while allowing for individual variety, skilful planting and landscape

    6. The creation of neighbourhoods as developmental and social entities.

    7. Unified land ownership with the whole site, including the agricultural zone, under quasi-public or trust ownership; enabling planning control through leasehold covenants, and capturing land value for the community.

    8. Progressive municipal and co-operative enterprise.

    Chris Gossop
    From Garden Cities to New Towns
    42nd ISoCaRP Congress 2006

  • John Tilley,
    Ebbsfleet doesn’t quite look like that.

  • Richard Dean 14th Apr '14 - 6:54pm

    Harlow is quite nice.
    Tony Greaves is mysterious to the point of incomprehensibility.
    Nick Clegg needs a lesion from Michael Gove: three times 15,000 definitely doesn’t equal 221,000 annually for the next six years.

  • Richard Dean 14th Apr '14 - 6:59pm

    lesion -> lesson, hopefully!

  • If these cities build 50,000 houses over the next decade, that will be 5,000 houses per year.

    So if all goes according to plan, the housebuilding rate will go up by 5%.

    I suppose this is supposed to show how seriously they are taking the housing crisis…

  • “Officials were keen to stress that the new cities would not be imposed on communities and must have local support. ”
    Ie they won’t be happening .

  • Bill le Breton 14th Apr '14 - 8:18pm

    Mike Smithson writes, “Clegg’s Farage debate gamble looks like a failure
    For me ICM IS the gold standard and I regard its monthly survey for the Guardian as the most important polling event of the month. ICM is also the firm that traditionally reports the best shares for the Lib Dems.
    Tonight the firm has the yellows down 3% to meagre 6% for the May 22 EP elections which would mean on a uniform swing that they’d lose every single MEP.
    This is really bad for Clegg and his party but it’s hard to see what can be done.”

    Senior Elected Liberal Democrats must take action after the Euros. They have held back for various reasons, but their duty is to the Party not the leadership.

  • Paul Reynolds 15th Apr '14 - 5:49am

    It doesn’t really matter how many times the approach is ‘spun’ or how far forward the planning is, the idea of new well-planned towns, with jobs and a nice place to live, with good transport links, is a great one. It is especially welcome if it is part of a broader strategy to increase the number of residential dwellings in the UK.Our concerns in the Lib Dem party I believe should be twofold … can the prior problems be expressed clearly and lessons be learned from previous new towns, and to what extend does the British civil service have the capacity to get it together in a timely fashion without getting into a decades-long muddle. We should also press for improvements in the overall strategy of private and state funded housebuilding, especially the use of existing urban and non-agricultural land.

  • Paul Reynolds
    I do not know where you buy your rose-tinted spectacles but they are not available in most branches of Specsavers.

    If you check my earlier comment in this thread, please note that the date of Chris Gossop’s presentation was 2006.
    In the early years of the Blair government (1997-98) there was talk of new garden cities as part of the then Healthy Communities Strategy. You would be forgiven for not remembering that — I doubt that many people do remember it. Suffice to say that garden cities is not a new idea.

    If Clegg had any influence in government it would be happening by now and we would not still be getting compltely vague statements like — “Funding from an existing £2.4bn pot will be made available for developments being built up to 2020”.
    How much from the existing pot? When will it be made available in the six years up to 2020 ? — before autumn 2019 ?
    We can only conclude that Clegg does not know the answers to these questions because Osborne has not told him.
    Clegg has press-released this so many times now and yet still there is no meat on the bones .

    George Selmer is right. This is — “… desperate headline grasping. Yet another example of politics first policy later from the DPM’s office ….”

  • Michael Ingle 15th Apr '14 - 9:02pm

    I believe that the garden cities idea is excellent. However, even Nick Clegg says they will provide homes for our children and grandchildren. If we are serious about providing homes for people now in their 20s and 30s, in the numbers that are needed, we really need to consider some rather difficult issues. For example, a special tax like in Hong Kong on purchases by non-residents. Higher council tax on larger and more valuable properties to encourage people to down-size when they no longer need a large house. And could we at least consider the possibility of building on some greenbelt land? It does not all have to be sacrosanct. There are for example huge areas of land right next door to existing underground stations in Barkingside and Dagenham East, in east London. A very large number of houses could be built there within 10 years and the public transport already exists – they are both within 30 or 35 minutes of central London by tube. We could even sweeten the pill of limited interference with the greenbelt by mandating improvements in building standards, such as larger rooms and decent gardens, similar to the semi-detached houses built during the 30s. That is the type of house many people would love to live in. There could be a huge electoral dividend for the party that really gets to grips with our housing crisis – but no party has yet come up with a workable solution.

  • Simon Banks 17th Apr '14 - 8:38am

    Harlow is quite nice? It has its points, notably the green lung concept, but I struggle to see it as quite nice, a description that would fit Welwyn Garden City, a place designed with more imagination and pleasant to walk in, but still a bit boring (I mean in physical appearance, not in the people who live there). Harlow is simply not quite big enough to attract big name shops and has a weak centre. That is a major good point about WGC, that as you go through it, you’re led towards a centre that really is a centre. By contrast, Basildon’s is hidden so outside it, you have no notion of approaching a centre.

    If we’re going to reproduce the attitudes of 1940s politicians, can-do and ambitious but vastly overconfident about their ability to plan things well for other people, tending to operate from a we-know-best attitude and believing central planning could solve everything, we need a rethink.

  • Richard Dean 17th Apr '14 - 9:30am

    Sure, Harlow is nice, even pleasant to walk in. There are plenty of good shops, but why would “big enough to attract big names” be a good point? Why want a “strong centre” as opposed to a dispersed one? Those sound like odd prejudices to this happy-to-be-there Harlow resident! Harlow has many good social amenities, good air, good transport links (on a motorway, a main train line into London, quite good bus services, and close to Epping’s tube), and it’s convenient for so many other nice places; close to Epping and its forest, close to the countryside of Essex and Herts, even the seaside’s not far. A model for future planners to take well into account.

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